Who Can You Trust for Fitness Advice?
I noticed a recurring theme online when it came to getting the best advice for fitness. Almost everyone, as in 99.9999%, advised going to a family physician as the primary source for personal fitness. Most of this is no doubt to cover one’s derriere for legal purposes, but then it got me to thinking. And that’s always a dangerous thing.
Consider the Source
This might come as a shock to a lot of people, but when it comes to dietary health, medical doctors are only slightly more qualified than the night janitor at Taco Bell. Years of school are spent studying prescriptions and symptoms, not food health and exercise.
Let’s consider a scenario: Betty walks in and has roughly one Chevy Silverado’s weight in fat to loose. The doctor takes some time to walk around while privately wishing he’d specialized in sports therapy for Swedish supermodels. Now, the good Doctor has two options and only one of these will keep him in business. The first is to tell Betty that a box of Dunkin’ Donuts for breakfast and stuffing back a block of cheese for lunch is bad, and she needs to knock that crap off if she doesn’t want to pay extra for a double-wide coffin, or cause a grease fire in the crematorium burner.
The second and most unlikely advise to be given is to go to a gym and start to shed the tallow, or at least have it surgically removed and donate it to a soap factory. Usually the first move is to prescribe a pill. Hell, prescribe a dozen.
Now I obviously am not telling you to ignore your doctor because the tentacles of legal liability extend long and far. There may be a situation where you legitimately need whatever they’re prescribing, and that jumping cold turkey into a gym-regimen will kill your fat ass dead. The trick is finding that sweet spot of listening to your doctor, and trying to discover just where their expertise ends.
If You Can’t Dazzle Them with Brilliance, Baffle them with BullS***
Fitness trainers are probably the safest option you will find when it comes to talking to the right people. But even here, watch yourself. Some would-be trainers talk the good talk and in the end will leave you worse off than when you started.
There’s a difference…a huge difference…between someone who got promoted from wiping Ebola off treadmills to “trainer” status at a community gym, to a legitimate, trained fitness instructor. Just because some kid can assemble a Big Mac does not mean he can cook a fresh white-tail back-strap to perfection. Same goes for trainers.
This holds especially true if you suffer from certain physical issues such as old injuries. Do not hesitate to talk to a fitness physiotherapist. Many large gyms may even employ one on site and if you’re a member, might even give you a sweet discount. These folk can teach you to work around the issue, or better yet, to slowly recover from it. You’d be surprised how some proper training and good guidance can alleviate issues or plateaus you may have thought were permanent.
Fame Does Not Equate Expertise
Ok, I’d be lying if I didn’t from time to time, bask in the fame of being the Internet’s most pre-imminent fitness reviewer. This of course has resulted in a lot…and I do mean a lot…of personal e-mails asking for rather specific health advice. Most of it is pretty straightforward. I pat my worshiper on the head the send the little plebeian back to bed with a glass of water. Only occasionally has this ego-inflation extended into my day-to-day, but to be honest I’m a pretty down to earth fellow who has rarely ever let it affect me.
Sometimes things get real specific and I’m not sure what fresh hell I’ve gotten myself into. Probably about a half-dozen times a year a message shows up that includes intricate details of medical exams. I try and be gracious and give whatever advice I can to a desperate soul, but somehow these folks have confused a guy who does fitness reviews with an honest to goodness medical specialist. Hey, I can give advice on how to lose a few pounds, no problem. But if you’re a carrier of a mutant strain of small-pox, you may not want to waste time on Facebook Messenger. For many, I believe you have me confused with the CDC.
This extends into A-List celebrities as well. Whether health or politics, any opinion that comes from an actor is straight up, Grade-A nonsense. Let me repeat, advice from actors is universally useless in everything. I’ve met enough of these people to come to the conclusion that while they play a part on screen, in reality they are vacuous, hollow shells that are only worthy of pity. The only actor I ever met who came across as authentic was Clint Eastwood. To give perspective, several decades ago I was a cook at a high-end resort and made a Caesar salad at his table, so it’s not like we visit each other for Thanksgiving or anything.
Remember, many of the health pros you see are just one step above actors themselves. Dr. Phil, who I’m sure is a nice guy, isn’t going to wow anybody at the gym. Oprah’s weight, and sanity, fluctuates with the tides. Dr. Oz at least is in good shape and swims in both the medical and dietary-health pools, so I’ll give him a cautious pass. But even he wanders into oddball territory from time to time.
Intensity Does Not Always Equate Results
Be mindful about what I’m saying here. You obviously need intensity in your fitness regimen to make progress. What I’m saying is that just because the Cross-Fit trainer screams like Drill Sergeant Hartman and informs you that you are nothing but a lowlife piece of amphibian feces, it doesn’t mean you’ve found the ticket to success. Find out what your trainer really knows. Talk to the older students and check online reviews. A good trainer shows results over an extended period of time. A bad trainer has an uncomfortably long record of injured students who never return.
As I may have implied, Cross-fit can be notoriously guilty of pushing people beyond their immediate ability to the point of butt-puckeringly awful injuries. This is because exercises are performed under a fatigued state, thus compromising form and increasing the odds of injury exponentially.
There’s only one institution I have ever seen where intensity will equate results: the military. If you’re a young, whiny little puke who has no direction and thinks socialism is a neat idea because it beats the alternative of having to make something of yourself, then do us all a favor and enlist. I’ve seem pathetic societal-barnacles transformed into people I would be proud to join in battle by stripping naked and painting myself blue in traditional Scottish fashion. I don’t know what they do in the military to build bodies and character, but they obviously do it well.
Remember, intensity needs to be smart. Without focus you’re just screaming a lot and frightening the sane people. A plan that takes into account your diet and physical activity should be as specific as possible at first before getting too flexible. In may ways that’s why I like workout videos, as they keep things focused. Just remember that in time you need to find ways to expand what you see on TV into what you do in life. It’s a long road to the end.
February 21, 2020 at
February 21, 2020 at
As a family doc myself, I think the reason why they have the “talk to your doc first” disclaimer is in case some has a significant chronic or acute disorder that precludes physical activity. It would be silly for everyone to follow that advice–see your doctor if you have chronic conditions or significant as yet diagnosed symptoms. Otherwise, get started whenever you are ready. In terms of docs prescribing pills for weight loss-there really is no effective weight loss pill, otherwise it would be a bigger household name than Viagra. If a physician offers one, run away, you’ve met a quack. Weight loss is a matter of diet change, with maximizing vegetables and controlling portions having the most evidence. Modest goals are more sustainable than extreme ones, with 10% weight loss being reasonable. Nutrition science, however, is quite limited by the difficulty in setting up proper controlled experiments. A doc can prescribe getting started with exercise, but anyone who wants to maximize fitness should find a quality trainer. We are more often confronted with patients who should be exercising than those who are eager to start and want advice.